Jimmie Johnson might not be in the fight to win his seventh NASCAR title, but that again has not held him back as he took his first pole of the year, coming at the penultimate race of the season at Phoenix.
After being the spoiler last week with victory at Texas, Johnson set a new track qualifying record with a speed of 230.391 km/h (143.158 mph).
“Qualifying has never been my sweet spot, so it was good to get one this year,” said Johnson.
“Everyone at Hendrick Motorsports has worked hard to get better. We’re trying to get every trophy we can and have a little fun.”
Championship contender Kurt Busch will share the front row, while Johnson’s teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start third alongside another title contender Carl Edwards. Martin Truex Jr., who is also in the championship fight, rounded out the top five.
Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, who both need a victory to advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead next weekend, were the lowest-qualifying Chase contenders in 14th and 18th respectively.
The other title contenders were in far better positions with Kevin Harvick in eighth, Kyle Busch in 10th, while the only driver locked into the Final 4, Jeff Gordon, will start from 11th.
VIDEO: Johnson talks about his pole
QUALIFYING: Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 – Phoenix International Raceway
|1||48||Jimmie Johnson||Lowe’s Patriotic||143.158||25.147||Leader|
|2||41||Kurt Busch||Haas Automation||142.880||25.196||–0.049|
|3||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr||Nationwide||142.580||25.249||–0.102|
|5||78||Martin Truex Jr||Furniture Row/Visser Precision||142.292||25.300||–0.153|
|6||42||Kyle Larson||Target Camo||142.287||25.301||–0.154|
|7||20||Erik Jones||Dollar General||142.219||25.313||–0.166|
|8||4||Kevin Harvick||Budweiser / Jimmy John’s||142.068||25.340||–0.193|
|9||5||Kasey Kahne||Farmers Insurance||142.062||25.341||–0.194|
|10||18||Kyle Busch||M&M’s Crispy||141.833||25.382||–0.235|
|12||1||Jamie McMurray||Sherwin Williams||141.409||25.458||–0.311|
|13||11||Denny Hamlin||FedEx Express||141.665||25.412||–0.265|
|15||27||Paul Menard||Duracell / Menards||141.393||25.461||–0.314|
|16||3||Austin Dillon||Bad Boy Buggies / Realtree||141.343||25.470||–0.323|
|17||43||Aric Almirola||United States Air Force||141.282||25.481||–0.334|
|18||2||Brad Keselowski||Miller Lite||141.271||25.483||–0.336|
|19||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr||Cargill Ford Fusion||140.944||25.542||–0.395|
|20||16||Greg Biffle||Jardiance Ford Fusion||140.691||25.588||–0.441|
|22||31||Ryan Newman||Caterpillar Global Mining||140.280||25.663||–0.516|
|24||13||Casey Mears||GEICO Military||139.735||25.763||–0.616|
|26||6||Trevor Bayne||Advocare Ford Fusion||139.459||25.814||–0.667|
|27||15||Clint Bowyer||5 Hour Energy||139.265||25.850||–0.703|
|28||9||Sam Hornish Jr||Go Bowling / G1GABLAST||139.114||25.878||–0.731|
|29||55||David Ragan||Aaron’s Online Dream Machine||138.910||25.916||–0.769|
|30||83||Matt DiBenedetto||VooDoo Barbeque||138.900||25.918||–0.771|
|31||14||Tony Stewart||Mobil 1 / Bass Pro Shops||138.739||25.948||–0.801|
|32||40||Landon Cassill||Interstate Moving Services||138.212||26.047||–0.900|
|34||38||David Gilliland||Love’s Travel Stops||137.878||26.110||–0.963|
|35||7||Alex Bowman||Nikko RC / Toy State||137.868||26.112||–0.965|
|36||46||Michael Annett||Pilot Flying J||137.799||26.125||–0.978|
|37||23||Jeb Burton||Dr. Pepper||136.997||26.278||–1.131|
|39||32||Joey Gase||R FACTOR 2||136.747||26.326||–1.179|
|43||62||Timmy Hill||Prairie Auto Credit/Financial Concepts||131.507||27.375||–2.228|